The news that the DPP youth intend to march against BJ and others they consider as dead wood in the party reminds me of a series of rebellion we experienced in MCP while in opposition.
The first to manifest the rebellious spirit was Hon Jumbe.The moment we saw him giving out an interview on MBC undermining the leadership of our President, we knew he was either bought by DPP or he had intentionally sold himself to our political foe.His rebellion shocked us all.He was our National Campaign Director and eight months earlier, he had contested against our President in the famous NRC convention.
Some of us, being political novices then thought this was an isolated incident.Little did we know that the rebellion spirit was spreading and spreading faster than we thought.
Next were the Regional Chairmen, particularly the late Mkweza of the Lakeshore who was very close to Hon Jumbe and Nanthumba of the Southern Region who we had always suspected of being an enemy within and an impediment to our Southern Region penetration strategy.
The first thing to do in order to revamp the party after the 2014 ‘atibela volume chani-chani’ was to hold Electoral conferences that could attract energetic and passionate office bearers and get rid of the dead wood at both Regional and District levels.
This decision shook the hornets’ nest and infuriated the then Regional Chairmen and their subordinates, the District Chairmen.
Even those RCs we thought were the most loyal to the President and the party such as Hon Mlomo and the late Hon Bazzar Kaunda in the Central and Northern Region respectively caught the cold.
What started as a small resistance by the RCs and DCs aided by few disgruntled members fermented into a serious rebellion and caused so much pandemonium within and brouhaha to our foes.
One vocal radio station used to add insult to the injury as they kept featuring the rebellion in their news bulletin.
The Chichewa translation of the squabbles was even more painful to our ears.The Chichewa bulletin would go like…’mpungwe-pungwe mchipani cha Malawi Congress ukupitililabe…’
And there was one weekly report by one of their famous, smart and award-winning female reporter on the ‘mpungwe-pungwe’ that was so damaging to us.Having known her from the Poly days, I called her and asked why she had aired such a damaging report, full of personal attacks against our President.She exonerated herself by saying she was simply doing her job.
I think she was justified.The DPP’s propaganda machine was in full swing taking advantage of our intra-party differences.The DCs could wake up one morning and decide to have a presser chiding the President.Chatinkha, with some un met expectations was all over town bad mouthing the President.Even the little known Azam from Lumbadzi (which was turned into the rebels’ nerve centre) could give very damaging radio interviews maligning the President.It was a very difficult time for the President and we could see that he was greatly troubled and frustrated but he kept the faith, marched on and hardly responded to the rebels.
Those of us who had vowed to stick to the President knew that the rebellion had taken a toll on him but he remained undaunted.
He remained determined to rebuild the party and take it to regions it was less popular through Regional and District elections and recruitment of demagogues.
Perhaps the spiritual awareness that he had to undergo the desert experience as narrated by Her Excellency, the First Lady the other day on Rainbow TV gave him the courage to soldier on despite the fierce resistance.
It was like he was watching a replay match whose results he was already aware of.
The first Regional electoral conference to be held was in the South.Aware that it was not going to be easy to uproot Hon Nanthumba for his poor performance, a team was set comprising myself, Hon.Chimwendo, Hon Nkhata (Galagaza) and Hon Jacob Hara to go to the South and shake him up.
We went around in all the Southern Districts, talking to the delegates and convincing them that we needed change.By the time we returned to Lilongwe, we knew the mission had been accomplished and when Regional Electoral conference came on the weekend that followed, as expected, Hon Nanthumba lost to Hon Simbi from the Lower Shire.
We were excited as Hon Simbi was seen as a herald to who would soon be our Party Vice President, Mbuya himself.
This led to another big rebellion, the Msowoya rebellion: for what had been a rumour (about Hon Mia joining the Party with eyes on the Vice Presidency) for several months was slowly crystallising.
I think the Rt Hon Speaker was justified to put up a resistance.His party position was at stake.Anyone in his shoes could do the same. Mbuya is no small politician.By this time he had lobbied almost 90% of the convention delegates and we all looked forward to his coming with excitement.
Realising he couldn’t go down without a fight, he (the Speaker) joined hands with other rebels against the President.
A group of his adherents , the Champions began to to fight for him in various WhatsApp fora but to no avail.
Some of us could take him head-on which was very risky but we realised that the stakes (of having our President deposed) were much higher than the risk of losing personal favours from Parliamentary boss.
Fast forward….the big day of welcoming Hon Mia, the giant of the Lower Shire came.It was an exciting day.N’gabu burst into ecstasy.It was a momentous occasion.
We saw the face of our President radiating joy.
We were all happy that finally our President was visibly happy having endured so much reproach from the rebellion.
The coming in of Hon Mia revitalised the Party in the South and gave hope to our supporters across all the regions.
We felt the momentum and rode on its wings resulting in the sweet, resounding 5:1 victory in the 2017 by-elections.We won in Ndirande.We clobbered DPP in Nsanje Lalanje and we thumped the then ruling party in the Central region constituencies and Wards.
This victory silenced the critics and rebels but the peace that followed was short lived for what would be the mother of all rebellions was looming as we prepared for the National convention where Hon Mia was expected to be elected the Vice President.
The Kaliwo Rebellion.
Apparently, our 5:1 victory against the then ruling party had twisted the lion’s tail. In obedience to the Newton’s third law of motion, the DPP propaganda machine led by ‘you know who’ swung to the fullest.
The one available for use was our own Secretary General.He made us dance.
His, was not just a mere rebellion but something indescribable against his own President and Party.
I will not have time and space to chronicle the pain he inflicted on our President and on us all.
It took the Supreme Court to vacate the injunction against our national convention and the rest as they say is history.
Today the MCP President is at Kamuzu palace as the State President having the last laugh and enjoying a date with destiny.
I’m not sure how these rebels who tortured him day and night look at him now.
What comes to my mind is what King David said to his Son, Solomon when he (Solomon) had been crowned King of Israel.David told his son to remember Shimei and deal with him wisely for he had inflicted so much pain on him (David) as he fled from the Absalom rebellion.
Deal wisely with the Shimeis, Mr President.
Now it’s your turn, ‘our noisy neighbours’ to fight.
Wishing you a deadly in-fighting for the next 5 years
Peter Dimba is an MCP Parliamentarian for LL South